If you, like me, are going to spend umpteen hours on a plane this holiday season — and in the back of the plane no less — it helps to be prepared. Over the years, I’ve flown hundreds of thousands of miles all around the world and I’ve really learned that you can never be too prepared. One of my worst flights was a few years back, when I loaded up my iPad with movies and TV shows for the long flight from Chicago to Amman Jordan, only to get on the plane and realize I had no battery left on my iPad. Also, the entertainment system on the plane was also broken. (#firstworldproblems, I know.)
The long stretch of boringness during that Amman flight still serves as a powerful, simple lesson for me all these years later. So starting with that, let me give you this gift. My holiday travel tips for 2015..
1. Make sure your iPad is full of good stuff — movies, TV shows, books, and games — before you get on a plane. (I like logic problems, myself.)
2. Make sure your iPad is also fully charged before you get on a plane.
3. Stop saying “It’s impossible for me to sleep on planes.” Try to sleep during your flight. My mindset now is “I must sleep!! I must sleep or I will die!” My family lives in Florida, so by the time I get from London to Florida, I am exhausted. (Especially when I have to connect through Newark like this upcoming flight.) I like to think I am a relatively calm person, but I can tell you that family squabbles are not infrequent within an hour or two of my arrival. I don’t know whose fault this is, but I’m much calmer about it all if I’ve had some sleep. So now I make sure to take two Tylenol PM when I get on a plane and try to rest for an hour or two.
4. Fly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for maximum space in Economy. Stretching out is NICE. My work schedule means that it is hard to get away mid-week. BUT! Whenever I can, when I am flying long-haul economy, I try to book tickets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Flights just seem to be less crowded then, and if you are are really lucky, you will get an entire row to yourself!
5. Nylon tote bags are your friends. I bought a bunch of these puppies and boy am I glad. My normal routine when I get to the airport is to head to the newsstand and buy all the trashy magazines, snacks and the biggest bottle of water I can find. (Hydration, people.) Rather than use one of the plastic bags from the store — the plastic bags ALWAYS rip — I unroll my nylon tote bag and in everything goes. Tip: Get one in a bright color. Otherwise, you may accidentally leave your new nylon tote bag behind. eBoot makes nice ones.
6. I’ve learned the hard way that some coach seats may have the plane’s audio/visual equipment under them, making it hard to stretch out. So check Seatguru before you board and choose your seat carefully.
7. Check your passport in advance. One of my most stressful travel experiences was a few years back when Virgin Atlantic threatened not to let me on my flight to New York because my passport expired in exactly six months. (I defeated them with logic.) So make sure you are always travel ready. Last minute getaways are brilliant, but not so brilliant if you realise your passport has run out. If you need to renew your passport in a hurry the Passport Office offers urgent passport services to UK citizens and you can have your new passport within a week or even a day depending on your needs. So if you need your passport quickly visit www.passports-office.co.
8. Compression socks are your friends. I don’t care how dumb you might feel or look wearing them. For a long-haul flight when you are sitting down for hours on end, they are very important for circulation. GET THEM.
9. SIGN UP FOR HEATHROW REWARDS. I spend a lot of money in airports. I don’t know why. Actually, I do know why. I am a captive audience. You are too. If you plan on buying magazines and having a meal in Heathrow, sign up for Heathrow Rewards. Like seriously. (They should pay me for saying this, but they’re not.)
10. Most importantly, relax. Don’t stress out if the guy in front of you puts their seat back. Don’t stress out when the US airlines charge you for booze. (Thank you, United Airlines, for providing wine for free again.) And don’t stress out when your flight is delayed eight hours. Just try to relax! Really.